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Child Exploitation

Puerto Rican man pleads guilty to child pornography charges

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A 60-year-old man charged with production of child pornography pleaded guilty in federal court Monday following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force (PRCACTF).

Andres Ruiz-Huertas, 60, was arrested Feb. 19 at his place of residence after a referral from the Puerto Rico Police Department to HSI led to the execution of a search warrant, during which several digital electronic storage devices were seized. A preliminary analysis of the seized materials revealed explicit videos of Ruiz-Huertas engaging in sexual acts with multiple minors.

"All children have an absolute right to grow up free from the fear of sexual exploitation," said Angel Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "HSI relentlessly pursues predators who sexually abuse children, whether that abuse is physical in nature or if it's accomplished by exploiting their images. HSI will not tolerate such despicable crimes. Our agents will continue to police cyberspace and target those who exploit the most vulnerable segment of our society – our children."

According to the charging document, on Feb. 18, Ruiz-Huertas, told a female minor that he had engaged in sexual acts with two other minors whom he identified. He then proceeded to show the victim sexually explicit images from his smartphone. The criminal complaint further alleges that Ruiz-Huertas took the victim to his office, showed her sexually explicit images on his computer and purportedly sexually assaulted her.

The sentencing hearing of Ruiz-Huertas is scheduled for Oct. 23. He faces a sentence of 15 to 150 years in prison.

In response to the need for an island-wide approach to fighting the escalation of predatory crimes against children, HSI San Juan partnered with members of local, state and federal law enforcement, as well as local and state government officials and community leaders, to form PRCACTF in June 2011.

Through PRCACTF, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies work together with local and state government agencies to effectively pool their resources to jointly investigate all crimes against children in Puerto Rico. Through the task force, law enforcement officers are encouraged to share evidence, ideas, and investigative and forensic tools to ensure the most successful prosecutions possible. As such, PRCACTF allows law enforcement to speak with one unified voice in defense of the children of Puerto Rico.

The investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.

HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.